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China erupts, Japan protests

Shanghai/Beijing, April 16 (Reuters): Shouting 'Japanese invaders must die', thousands protested against Japan's wartime past in eastern China today, hurling rocks and bottles and burning Japanese flags at Tokyo's consulate in Shanghai.

But with thousands of paramilitary police on the streets of Beijing and students warned against protests, authorities headed off a repeat of last weekend's violent demonstrations in the capital, which hosts Japan's foreign minister tomorrow.

Police also barred incidents in southern Guangzhou and southwestern Chongqing, where thousands marched last weekend.

Chinese are protesting against textbooks they see as whitewashing Japan's wartime past and against Tokyo's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, among other disputes.

In the third weekend of violent protests against Japan across China, thousands marched on the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, smashing windows with rocks and pelting it with paint bombs and attacking Japanese restaurants along the way. Some held posters carrying messages such as: 'Face Up to History'. Another warned: 'The anti-Japan war is not over yet'.

Protesters overturned a Japanese car, leaving it scratched and 'Boycott Japan' scrawled on its side.

Hundreds of paramilitary police in full riot gear stood ready as police appealed for order on loud hailers. Isolated scuffles broke out and about a dozen protesters were dragged away.

During moments of relative calm, protesters and police alike were spotted buying lattes at a nearby coffee shop. The demonstration broke up in the early evening.

Japan's foreign ministry lodged a protest, saying the Chinese government failed to protect Japan's diplomatic and commercial facilities from damage by the protesters and urging Beijing to take severe and serious efforts to prevent a recurrence.

'This sort of incident seems to have been repeated every week since the beginning of the month. Whatever the reason for this violent and destructive behaviour, we will not accept it, but strongly criticise it,' the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Japan's National Police Agency has told police to tighten security at Chinese facilities throughout the country, Kyodo news agency reported. Police are keeping a close eye on Japanese Right-wing groups that might take action in response to the anti-Japanese protests in China

In the eastern city of Hangzhou, 10,000 protesters chanted anti-Japanese slogans and handed out fliers calling for a boycott of Japanese goods, witnesses said. Journalists were told not to report on it and warned they would be sacked if they took part. Shopkeepers covered up billboards featuring Japanese electronics goods in Hangzhou.

Another 2,000 people marched in Tianjin city, near the capital.

In Beijing, hundreds of police in riot gear secured the ambassador's home in the northeast diplomatic district and the embassy in the southeast. Both were hit by rocks and bottles by thousands of protesters last weekend but spared this time around.

Japanese foreign minister Nobutaka Machimura is due to meet his counterpart Li Zhaoxing tomorrow, and aims to ensure disputes ' on everything from gas exploration in disputed waters to Japan's history ' do not hurt $178 billion in annual trade between the economic powers.

Japan has pledged not to let the series of disputes hinder their broader relationship. Even so, Machimura noted security in Shanghai was inadequate and he would share his views with Li.

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